Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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January 13th, 2012

What a great idea – legalized gaming

Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address last week said that he wants legalized gaming approved in the Catskills. He tells us the industry would add millions to the state coffers.

Cuomo is unquestionably right. We need casino gaming and we need it now. But, haven’t we heard all this before? The drive to bring legalized casino gaming has been alive and dead for years. We have seen governor after governor and politician after politician tell us they will deliver it as a means of economic development.

How can we forget employees at hotels such as the Concord, Kutsher’s, Grossinger’s, Browns, Raleigh, Pines, and Stevensville to name a few, wearing buttons stating “Casinos Mean Jobs.” Sadly, instead of casinos, one hotel after another closed. We all witnessed the destruction of one of the largest resort/hotel industries in the United States before our very eyes, and no one even lifted and eyelash to try and stop it from happening.

The Villa Roma, our only hotel that has stuck through thick and thin, has never even been included in any of the casino proposals. Despite begging and pleading to be integrated into the video slot market, they have been ignored by everyone.
The racino at Monticello Raceway opened with enormous fanfare, but somewhere along the line as other racinos opened and casinos became legalized in Pennsylvania revenues went sour.

Sullivan County officials negotiated agreement after agreement with Indian Tribe after Indian Tribe. The Mohawks, Seneca’s, Oneidas, and Stockbridge Munsee’s were all coming here. Not only were we going to get $15 million a year in fees from each, but we were getting jobs, hotels, spas, convention centers, concert halls, restaurants, boutique shopping stores, and so on and so on.

When approval for the Stockbridge Munsee casino was imminent last year, it was stopped in part by the foreign casino investors behind the Monticello and Aqueduct Racinos.

On top of all that, the Concord property is divided between Cappelli and his new partner Mohegan Sun, and Empire Resorts and their partner Entertainment Properties Trust. Both want to open racetracks and racinos. Entertainment Properties Trust last week purchased the Monster Golf Course. All the parties involved at the Concord must stop the games and come to terms.
Empire Resorts major shareholder Genting Group of Malaysia is also the developer being touted by Cuomo to build the massive convention center and casino at Aqueduct.

A hotel resort in Sullivan County can still be successful despite what is being pushed at Aqueduct. Sullivan County would bring different types of conventions and offer things like golf, fishing, and outdoor swimming that Aqueduct could not.
Simply put, Sullivan County cannot wait for construction to begin after two legislative sessions and a voter referendum. What we need is for construction of a resort/convention center to begin immediately as a racino and then have the property converted into a casino if it becomes legal.

Lawsuits can be anticipated from other casino developers if the Genting Group is guaranteed two casinos while others are not, and anti-casino groups will also mount extensive lobby campaigns.

I for one will never give up in supporting casino gaming for Sullivan County, but I have to admit, there is something very wrong when Pennsylvania surpasses Atlantic City in gaming revenues and we still have nothing.

Maybe one day we will hit the jackpot, but until then, we keep dreaming.

1 comment to What a great idea – legalized gaming

  • marvin Cohen

    Hate to be pessimistic,But i believe we are beating a dead horse.Hope i’m wrong,but i don’t think so.